Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Churches on One Sunday

Sunday for us usually starts at First Baptist Church, Richmond. Our bible study group is called the Mustard Seed Class. Glen Scott and Joe Evans are enjoying the fellowship before the lessons starts. This is a group of dedicated believers who study, pray and serve faithfully.

Julia Scott, taught the lesson Sunday substituting for Lewis Meyers who was away on Sunday.

Bible study was followed by worship. On this morning there was music by one of the children's choirs, one of the youth choirs and the sanctuary choir. Of course the music was all traditional. My prayer is that I will be attentive to anything that God would say to me in corporate worship.

That worship was followed on Sunday evening by a youth oriented service called "6:33" (for Matthew 6:33) at Cambridge Baptist Church. This service had a heavy dose of worship music with a driving rock beat. God was praised and worshipped in a very meaningful manner.

On this night Farris Jarrar was baptized by Win Davis the Youth and Young Adult Pastor. I had the privilege of baptizing his mom and dad last year. Win baptized his older brother earlier this year.

Pastor Jay Smith delivered the sermon. It was a big day for Cambridge, three people were baptized.

After the service Farris was welcomed into the Family of God and participated in his first communion service.

We often say that the church has five primary purposes: worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and evangelism. We experienced worship in both morning and evening services; we experienced discipleship during the bible study; we enjoyed fellowship with people in both churches; and, we saw the results of evangelism when Farris was baptised. The only thing we were not involved in was ministry, that is serving others in the name of Christ. That is what we do all week long.

"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blending Families

Over the weekend we participated in a 'Family Blending' ceremony for Laura and Leah Kasack and Bill and Ashley Ratliff. Bill and Laura were married earlier in the week in a private ceremony. This was an opportunity to formally blend the two families.
The ceremony was held at West End Assembly of God Church; in the room where Laura and Bill met. The ceremony was led by Shane Schliesman, Family Life Pastor, who shared that he grew up in a blended family.
The entire family joined in lighting the 'Unity Candle' symbolizing joining the two families together.
At the end of the ceremony, those attending were invited to share a word of blessing for the new family. Van Williams, father of the bride welcomed Bill and Ashley into the extended family and gave his blessing to the new family.
The Bill, Laura and the girls joined in cutting the cake and feeding each other a piece of the cake.

When two people marry, they join their hearts and their lives together. They may only see their lives, but they become a part of the chain of generations that God causes to come and go. When a family comes together they share their hopes and dreams for a future. The synergy of the family enables each individual to become more than they could by themselves. When a family joins together, the joy is doubled (or in this case quadrupled) and the sorrows are halved.

In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. Deuteronomy 30:16

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, and give you peace.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Music at the Daily Grind

The Daily Grind featured a new group called 17th and Main in concert on Friday night. They had an ecclectic mix of music and a very good sound. I was impressed with the lead singer and the electric guitar. Hopefully they will produce a CD soon, I would like to buy one. We saw a number of friends including Mike and Cindy Wilson. Mike is a musician and a network administrator of a local company. Cindy has just completed nursing school. Mike leads the praise team during worship services at Cambridge Baptist Church.
Stephanie Layton and her daughter Shannon were there as well. Stephanie has been the children's minister at Cambridge.

Of course the lovely Janine was there.

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,"
Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Louisville Airport

Traveling through the Louisville airport, I usually get my shoes shined. Datril is always there and he is usually busy. He can do it easier, faster and better than I can. It's well worth the $5 and besides, he is a great guy. Datril shines shoes during the day and goes to nursing school at night. He has completed the requirements for his LPN and is now doing the clinical training. He is married and has two children as well.

What I like about Datril is his servant spirit. I can learn a lot from him.

"...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave." Matthew 20:26-27

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Rainy Day in Louisville

I am in Louisville, KY this week on my regular trip to Southern Seminary where I have been interviewing people who are interested in overseas service. Yesterday was a beautiful fall day with crisp cool weather and clear skies. Today in rained all day. This is the chapel at Southern. It is a majestic sight on a cold rainy day.

"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exhalted among the nations. I will be exhalted in all the earth." Psalms 46:10

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Rites of Autum

I love the colors of Fall. The problem is the beauty is magnificent for a week or two. Then the leaves begin to fall.
In our part of the country we usually aerate and oversead our lawns in September. When the leaves fall, they need to be removed or they will suffocate the new grass. Of course the leaves make things look pretty trashy.
From late October through Thanksgiving, cleaning up the leaves is a weekly task.

I have a handy Huskvarna back packer blower that does a good job of blowing the leaves. It is simply a lot of trouble getting it done.
There are two trees just around the corner that still have a lot of leaves with a lot of color. We will enjoy them as we leave the house each day, but they won't last long.

It all reminds me of several thing I try to remember:
First, just as the leaves are temporary, everything in this life is temporary. We will enjoy the leaves, our lives, our careers, relationships and everything in life while they last. But it is all temporary.
Second, I am reminded of God's grace when he infuses such incredible beauty in what is so short lived. I will remember to give thanks for the awesome beauty He gives us each day.
Third, there are some things that need to be done on a regular basis. It is a part of living. The leaves need to be cleaned up at some point. I can do it weekly and make the job fairly easy. Or I can procrastinate untill Thanksgiving and try to get it all done at once, but that becomes a major job. We just have to save the time so that we can take care of the routine things in life.

I am reminded of what Jesus said to the people who the people who wanted Him provide them with more food the day after He has fed the 5,000:

"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him, God the Father has placed his seal of approval." John 6:27

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Follow-up on David

Last week I posted some comments about our son David. I mentioned that when he is not working he loves to spend time in the mountains west of Denver. On Monday David sent me the link below to a video he shot over the weekend.

It is a great look at the mountains and what its like to ski down the mountain. By the way, the shadow you see is David on his snowboard.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November Birthdays

We celebrate a lot of birthdays in November. Charlotte on the 3rd, David on the 5th, Jim on the 27th. We also know several others who have birthdays in November. Over the weekend we celebrated two birthday dinners with the Williams family.
Sarah (left) celebrated her birthday on Saturday. Sarah and I lived in Colombia as kids where both of our parents were missionaries. My brother married Sarah's sister, so we go back a long way. Sarah is an accomplished pianist. She and her husband served as missionaries in South Asia.
Leah (front left) celebrated her birthday on Sunday. Also in the picture are Laura, Sarah's daughter, with Bill Ratliff and his daughter Ashley. If this looks like a family photo, it may as well be. Laura and Bill will be getting married in a matter of days. Leah celebrated her ninth birthday on Sunday. Charlotte bought her a giant Hershy bar for her birthday present.
Charlotte loves kids. Ashley, Charlotte and Leah know how to have a lot of fun.

It is important to celebrate special moments with family and friends. It's a chance to remember the past and to hope for the future. I have known Sarah since I was five or six years old. We have watched Leah grow up. We pray that God will bless them and fulfill his purpose in their lives.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Friday, November 6, 2009

Food, Fellowship and Music

A few nights ago we joined our Sunday School class for dinner and a concert by the Richmond Pops and the US Army Chorus. You never know who you will see at the Strawberry Street Cafe, especially on the night after Halloween.

Wanda Billingsley and Lynn Morreau were catching up just before the concert started.

The Richmond Pops, an all volunteer organization, provided a concert of showtime and patriotic music.

The US Army Chorus joined the Richmond Pops. Their primary function is to provide music for foreign dignitaries that visit Washington, D.C.As we left Landmark Theater there were a couple of street musicians playing on plastic buckets, garbage cans and paint cans as if they were drums.

We enjoyed the evening. The music was top quality and enjoyable. We were commenting about the cultural leap from the Gospel Chicken House to the Richmond Pops. The Richmond Pops music is not my favorite any more than the Gospel Chicken House though I enjoyed it all.

The powerful drumbeat that the street musicians produced was energizing, and frankly I connected as much with the drum music than anything else. I enjoy most kinds of music but my favorites are contemporary worship music, followed by country western and then rock.

At the end of today's worship service at First Baptist Church, the Salzburg Baptist Church, Salzburg, Austria sang, "Center of My Joy." It was one of those songs that really connected with me. It was not just a song to enjoy, it spoke collectively to the entire congregation. They expressed in song what the congregation was feeling, it really became a prayer. That is worship!

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Psalm 108:1

Thursday, November 5, 2009

David's Birthday

Today is our son David's thirty fourth birthday! Dave moved to Colorado fifteen years ago and has made a home for himself in the Denver area.Dave has always been close to his grandfather, Arvol Willingham.

He bought a Suzuki 650 sports bike a few years ago. He put over forty thousand miles on it before upgrading to a 1000 cc Suzuki.

This is one of my favorite pictures, Dave with his son Avery, taken at our son Scott's wedding in 2001.

Dave's favorite sport is snowboarding. He has competed in Snow Cross competitions.

Dave and his son Avery on the deck outside Dave's condo in Castle Rock, CO.

Dave lives in Castle Rock and works in Denver. By day he is an IT professional that works for a mortgage service company making sure the databases work. I really don't understand what he does, but I get the impression he is pretty good at it.

He works most of the time, but when he is not, he is exploring the mountains west of Denver, snowboarding, riding his motorcycle on 1000 mile rides and upgrading his condo. He is exceedingly talented when it comes to IT issues; he is an athlete; a good do-it-yourself er and fearless when it comes to sports. He is also the father of a very fine young man.

We love him dearly and are exceedingly proud of him.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Psalms 127:3

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Charlotte's Birthday

Charlotte celebrated her birthday. I am not going to tell you how old she is but she was one of the earliest baby boomers.

Charlotte and her sister Linda are best friends.

She loves being a grandmother. Right now she loves being with her grandson Joseph.

Earlier this year she retired after spending thirty-eight years in the public schools. She has taught second, third and fourth graders in Texas and in Virginia.
Charlotte's dad, Arvol Willingham, is now ninety-three years old.

Charlotte is a good friend, pictured here with Sarah Williams. She also loves being around children. The picture was taken during neighbor Henry's third birthday party. Incidentally, the dog's name is Charlotte as well.

Charlotte and I celebrated forty one years of marriage this year. I will always be thankful for her love and patience with me. She represents the qualities of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. Proverbs 31: 10-12

Monday, November 2, 2009


A week ago I traveled from Richmond to Atlanta and then on to Columbus. The flight left just before 7 AM. It was fascinating to see the sunrise from different perspectives. The flight took off just as the sun was coming up over the horizon.

Somewhere below 10,000 feet the sun continued to provide a golden glow. You can just see the James River in the foreground.

Some where close to 30,000 feet the sun appears to have risen and provides a brilliant glow well above the horizon.

The lighting on top of the clouds

Yet even after the sun seemed well above the horizon, the clouds below are glowing with the amber and gold of the sunrise.

As the plane begins its descent into the clouds the sun is up and the sky is bright full of hope for a new day.

There is something special about sunrise. It is usually a peaceful time, the sunrise brings beautiy, light and hope for a new day.

...weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Colors Part 2

Traveling through Ohio and Kentucky this week I was reminded of how fleeting the colors of fall are. In northern Ohio, most of the leaves were gone. Traveling south there was more and more color. These pictures were taken at the Kentucky welcome center, just south of Cincinnati.

For a week or two, the colors of fall are a kaleidoscope of ambers, reds, gold yellow and green. It is magnificent. But then the leaves fall and if you don't get them off the lawn then they could damage the grass. So we get out the rakes and leaf blowers and get to work.

It is a subtle reminder that everything in life is temporary. The only thing that lasts is the Kingdom of God and that is eternal. Civilizations, fortunes, careers, championships all come and go. We may be on top of the world at one moment but in time decay begins. Fortunes are dissipated by ups and downs in the economy. Careers come to an end and last year's champions lose. The only real source for hope is the Kingdom of God.

Why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Matthew 6: 28-30